Von der Leyen considers contacts with Sunak «encouraging» to resolve outstanding disputes

Micheal Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland,receives the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen – Brian Lawless/PA Wire/dpa

The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, has described as «encouraging» the contacts with the British Government since the arrival of Rishi Sunak in Downing Street, with a view to resolving outstanding issues such as the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol included in the Brexit agreements.

«Our talks with London are now marked by a new, more pragmatic spirit,» said Von der Leyen, during a speech to the Irish Parliament in which he implied that relations have improved after the escalation of tensions during Boris Johnson’s tenure.

The head of the EU executive sees room to «resolve practical issues» of the Protocol if «common sense» is applied and the parties focus «on the issues that really matter to Northern Ireland», without going into further details.

In this sense, she promised that the EU always talks to its British «friends» in the same way, «with a sincere heart and an open mind», pointing out at another point in her speech that «the European Union and the United Kingdom are members of the same extended family, even if they no longer live in the same house».

He did warn, however, that the «consequences» brought about by the UK’s exit from the EU and «the type of Brexit» chosen by the British rulers cannot be «completely» eliminated. «There cannot be a hard border on the island of Ireland,» he reiterated.

The central government of the United Kingdom and the unionist parties have criticized the consequences derived from the Northern Ireland Protocol, as they consider the limits imposed on internal trade in exchange for Northern Ireland being able to remain within the common market to be excessive.

London has even considered unilaterally challenging the agreements signed and the law passed by Johnson to avoid applying the regime negotiated for the two Irelands led Brussels to initiate several sanctioning proceedings against the United Kingdom, which are still pending resolution.

The chief negotiator of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, has spoken precisely this Thursday with the British Foreign Minister, James Cleverly, to try to take advantage of this «clear window of opportunity». «The EU is ready to redouble its efforts and find joint solutions that benefit all communities in Northern Ireland,» Sefcovic said on Twitter.